US patent reform: the Coalition speaks

This reached the IPKat yesterday, being a press release from the Coalition for Patent Fairness - a US-based organisation which numbers among its members such household and office names as Apple, Autodesk, Business Software Alliance, Chevron, Cisco Systems, Comcast, Dell, Electrolux, HP, Information Technology Industry Council, Intel, Micron Technology Inc., Microsoft, Oracle, Palm, RIM, SAP, TechNet, Time Warner and Visa:
"The Coalition for Patent Fairness – a coalition representing business leaders and innovators across the financial services, technology, energy, manufacturing and media sectors – expressed its support for today’s action by the House Subcommittee on Courts, the Internet and Intellectual Property to mark-up the Patent Reform Act of 2007 (H.R. 1908) and bring this important legislation one step closer to passage.

"The Subcommittee's markup today is a strong continuation of the bipartisan, consensus-building approach evident at the bill's introduction. The Coalition certainly thanks Subcommittee Chairman Berman, Subcommittee Ranking Member Coble, Chairman Conyers and Ranking Member Smith for their leadership in modernizing and restoring balance to the U.S. patent system,” said Jonathan Yarowsky, counsel to the Coalition for Patent Fairness. “But the patent system will not be the only beneficiary of the Committee's historic legislation; this bill will be a driver for enhanced innovation and competition, all to the benefit of the American consumer."

A number of reports from independent sources such as the Federal Trade Commission, the National Academy of Sciences and the Council on Foreign Relations have analyzed how imbalances in the current patent system are harming our nation’s competitive position in the worldwide economy. Leading legal scholars and economists have spoken out in support of patent reform and opinion-leading publications, including The Wall Street Journal, New York Times and Los Angeles Times, have editorialized in support of passing patent reform legislation without delay. Moreover, the U.S. Supreme Court recently reviewed an unusual number of patent-related cases -- including high profile cases including Microsoft v. AT&T and KSR v. Telefax just last month -- in order to correct imbalances in the judicial interpretation of core principles of patent law and procedure.

However, only Congress can implement the comprehensive reform needed to restore balance in a number of areas of the patent system. The Patent Reform Act of 2007 will do just that.

This important legislation will:

· Balance the apportionment of damages. The standard for calculating damages should be based on the fair share of the patent’s contribution to the value of a product, and not on the value of a whole product that has many other components.
· Establish fair standards for punitive damages. Awarding punitive, triple damages for “willful” patent infringement should be reserved for cases of the most egregious conduct, as required by the U.S. Supreme Court for virtually all other punitive damages.
· Restrict forum shopping. Cases should be brought in courts with some reasonable connection to the case and not, by gaming the system, in courts solely because they historically favor patent claims.
· Improve patent quality. The system should promote quality patents by providing a meaningful second chance for the experts at the PTO to review potentially problematic patents in a timely manner, and should promote sharing of information with the PTO to improve the process and increase innovation".
The IPKat wonders whether it's true that the recent boom in US patent litigation was launched "to correct imbalances in the judicial interpretation of core principles of patent law and procedure". He thinks the reason why people sue for patent infringement is because someone else is using their patent and that the reason why people challenge the validity of someone else's patent is because it's blocking their business plans. Merpel agrees and adds, however clearly a legal test is expressed it's always going to be a matter of uncertainty when that test is applied on specific facts: legislative reform - however desirable - does not so much remove uncertainties as shift them from one focal area to another.

Right: the lightbulb as cliche. Can no-one think of a better and less hackneyed piece of imagery to represent human inventiveness? (The IPKat feels a competition welling up here ...)

And both the IPKat and Merpel chant in chorus: "why has the Coalition so boringly and unimaginatively used a lightbulb - a stale and tired cliche - as a means of indicating innovation?"
US patent reform: the Coalition speaks US patent reform: the Coalition speaks Reviewed by Jeremy on Thursday, May 17, 2007 Rating: 5


  1. "the reason why people sue for patent infringement is because someone else is using their patent"

    Possibly. Sometimes it's because they *think* someone else is using their patent. Sometimes it's because they see a legitimate competitive threat and want to batten down the hatches.

    Sometimes they just see it as a potential source of money, either through a settlement or intimidating the other into licensing a technology.


  2. Lightbulbs are incredibly common as a quick image search on Google for "innovation" reveals. It depresses me to see people still using the light bulb, it shows such a lack of innovation!


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